When I start reading Cheryl Strayed, I don’t stop until I finish and maybe reread a couple more times. I don’t stop until I absorb all I could from her beautiful words and until I admit that there are deeper layers that I cannot reach or cannot understand. I don’t stop until I am tired of the “songs” I can humble along in her writing and until I tell myself, “you need to read something else.”
I love all her letters as Sugar in Tiny Beautiful Things. I love how in 300-something pages she wrapped the lives of others and of herself and of me the reader into a pretty package that is big and small at the same time. Significant and trivial at the same time. Painful and soothing at the same time. I soaked all in and thirsty for more. I don’t want to put her too high, but for her I hold high respect.
I read a section named “Write like a motherfucker” a few times, and it reminds me of how I’m both too proud and too meek. How I also hold myself both too high and too low like the writer. “Do you know what that is, sweet pea? To be humble?” Apparently, I don’t. I have surrounded myself with people who appear to be successful and to move forward and upward so fast given their ages and background, and with that I assume I should be better. On the other hand, I lack the skills I need to be where I want to be, and I also lack the patient to train myself for it.
Do I know what it is, to be on the ground level and write like a motherfucker? I don’t know. I have not been on the ground level, and I would love to.
How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.Yours, Sugar
So there, I will dig. I will dig into myself and peel the layers of me, until I reach where I find beautiful and where my strength is. I will dig until I am on the ground and prepared with the tools I need to do whatever I want to see myself to be in years to come.